NFL MVP 2012: Under-the-Radar Candidates for Prestigious Award

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 09:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball for a 15-yard gain against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 9, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
Kevin Casey/Getty Images

It seems as though Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning have already decided the 2012 NFL MVP award.

Peterson is on the brink of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record while Manning has returned from multiple neck surgeries to lead the Denver Broncos to an AFC West title.

While one would have to agree one of these two guys is the clear-cut MVP this season, there are a handful of other players who deserve credit for outstanding seasons.

Let's take a look.

Aaron Rodgers

Last season's MVP Aaron Rodgers has led his Green Bay Packers to an NFC North title, with an 11-4 record after a rough start to the season.

Rodgers has been relentless in his attempt to restore the Pack to the top of the NFC, sporting the best passer rating in the league while throwing 35 touchdowns to just eight interceptions.

With practically zero running game (are you surprised?), Rodgers is no stranger to attempting a plethora of passes each game and usually having a favorable result at the end of the game.

Manning may have more yards and a better completion percentage, but Rodgers bests him in touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating.

Manning has been the best QB this season, but let's give a hand for Rodgers' performance.

Marshawn Lynch

All the talk has been about what Russell Wilson has done for the Seattle Seahawks—and rightly so—but Wilson and the Seahawks wouldn't be where they're at without the efforts of Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch is the second-leading rusher in the NFL, having rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the fourth time in his career.

Furthermore, Lynch has taken a lot of pressure off of the rookie QB, boasting a 5.0 YPC average to go with 11 rushing TDs.

Seattle is 10-5 this season and is currently in line to make the postseason with a rookie QB under center and a large part of that is due to Lynch and his ground abilities.

J.J. Watt

The NFL tends to forget about defensive players when it comes to the MVP award and that's a shame for someone like J.J. Watt.

He'll likely be the Defensive Player of the Year, as he's just 2.5 sacks from tying Michael Strahan's single-season sack record.

Watt does so much more than sack the QB, though. He has amassed 77 tackles, 15 passes defended and four forced fumbles.

Watt's Houston Texans have already clinched the AFC South and are in line to clinch a first-round bye in the postseason.

In my opinion, Watt has had nearly the same impact on his side of the ball as AP and Manning have had on theirs.

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